People often talk about “the union,” but there’s no union outside of its membership. There’s a 95% chance that the union isn’t doing anything about an issue unless you are doing something about it. Everything starts with workers like yourself deciding to get just a little more involved beyond their automatic dues deductions.
While the union’s core activists are happy to help you find the most niche ways to get involved that you can imagine, here are some things with which we’ll pretty much always need help. They may not seem very glorious, but many of these tasks are absolutely critical to the union’s ability to do its job (representing all of us effectively and when we need it). Wherever possible, we’ve included an estimated realistic time commitment for each item.
Daily time commitments
The union email account
Help us stay on top of our union email account and get messages or questions to union activists who can answer them.
3-10 minutes per day
Monitoring the union text & voicemail line
Help us by prioritizing and directing incoming messages.
3-5 minutes per day
Tracking grievance timelines
The grievance procedure has specific timelines which, if exceeded, will completely tank a grievance. You can help us by keeping an extra eye on them and sending periodic reminders to stewards.
5-8 minutes per day
Stewards help defend workers and the contract, and organize co-workers to build power on the job.
5-25 minutes per day, average, or up to 1-2 hours twice per week, average (less if no active cases)
Read agency-wide emails
Including the COVID daily updates. Help us make sure we aren’t missing anything important by alerting us to relevant content (we’ll explain what that would be.)
5-10 minutes per day
Get the word out
Many workers don’t read all union emails in their entirety, and sometimes important information needs to be spread as quickly as possible in a way email can’t satisfy. Help us by making sure co-workers get critical information in a timely way, whether by email, text, phone call, or office talk.
Be on alert daily; actual time may be 5-10 minutes when an alert needs to go out
Weekly time commitments
Check in with union activists to see if there’s anything that needs to be posted on our Facebook account, and then post it there.
5-10 minutes per week, more frequently if you prefer
You’ll get emails or text messages from union officials with content for the union’s IG account and an (ideal) posting deadline. Post the content. That’s all there is to it.
5-8 minutes per week
Eyes & ears
Make a few minutes to check in with each of your co-workers. Build relationships. Repair co-worker conflicts, if possible. How are they holding up? What are the issues that matter most to them right now? Report back with periodic summaries at union meetings or alert core union activists to critical issues as they arise.
30-60 minutes over the course of a week (maybe two) depending on number of co-workers
Recruitment & follow-up
Help recruit co-workers or organizers at other programs follow-up with prospective union recruits. (Plenty of training/support available.)
10-30 minutes per week
Maybe help call some workers you’ve never even met before, on behalf of the union, just to see how they’re doing or if you can connect them with someone in the union who can help on a specific issue.
5-15 minutes per week
Biweekly and monthly time commitments
Send us brief updates (1-3 short paragraphs) about what’s happening at your program (workplace issues, new or ongoing concerns, and actions, etc.) that we can include in our periodic mass emails. If you can, try and involve some co-workers in this, too!
10-20 minutes, once per month
Misc. email content
Have some ideas for a regular segment to include in our periodic mass emails? Go for it. Maybe we add a section profiling a different worker in each email, or recognizing someone’s seniority or long-term union involvement. Maybe we add a section for cute pet photos of members. Whatever you can think of, we can probably do it.
5-??? minutes once per month or biweekly, depending on your time and interest
Misc. web content
Same as to the left (miscellaneous email content), but for our website or maybe Facebook.
5-??? minutes per month or biweekly, depending on your time and interest
Have fun messing around in Photoshop or even just MS Paint? Come up with some union-themed art and graphics for us to use in social media, web, and printed content.
Open-ended time commitment (you decide, probably varies), once per month
Help keep an eye on ongoing union projects, and gather or write short updates for our biweekly or monthly mass emails about where they’re at.
15-40 minutes biweekly (sometimes only monthly)
Labor movement updates
Gather important or relevant news stories about workers and the labor movement from around the country and the world, then create a short reading list with titles, a 1-2 sentence summary, and a link. For our mass emails and possibly web/FB use.
15-25 minutes, once per month (or twice if you feel like it)
Miscellaneous or as-needed
We set up a union YouTube account recently, but we need folks with audio-video skills to help with production. Or, workers who are motivated to teach themselves some basic audio-video production skills.
Open-ended, you decide
Archiving union history
Our union’s history is important. Not only do we need help archiving/digitizing all kinds of stuff from the past four decades, but developing a simple system for archiving current union history-in-the-making as it unfolds.
As little or as much time as you want to commit
Don’t have the time or interest to generate written content but derive unhealthy satisfaction from finding mistakes in the writing of others? Good. We need that. Help us with proofreading, correcting, and simplifying all manner of written content for clarity.
Flexibility helpful; even if only one person volunteers for this, it would rarely require more than 10-20 minutes here and there per month.
Help us translate critical union lit, announcements, and graphics text into other languages, especially: MSA, French, Urdu, Hindi, Nepali, Tibetan, and Balto-Slavic languages (Bosnian/Serbian).
5-30 minutes once every 1-3 months
We want to make sure workers can communicate with stewards and other union reps in the languages they know best. A functional vocabulary including work-related subjects will be especially helpful in the following languages/language groups: French, Arabic (particularly maghribi, hijazi, and Egyptian dialects), Hindi/Urdu, Nepali and Tibetan, and any African regional dialects are especially needed. Spanish may also be helpful.
Infrequent (maybe only a couple of times per year), but for up to an hour at a time.
Start your own thing
Have an idea for a union project or social/Zoom activity? Let us help you with advertising, resources, and support to get the word out.
See something missing on this list? Let us know!